What a day today, man. There were certain points of today where I thought I might be stuck in the middle of a mountain snowed up to the roof on my Bronco freezing my butt off until the sun melted me free. I planned to be in Boulder tonight but plans change just as quick as the road conditions changed today. I started my drive to Boulder around noon, and in my mind I had given the sun a chance to melt the snow on the roads. I sent videos and called my parents saying I was on the way to boulder, and even felt pretty confident that I could conquer the Wolf Creek pass mid snow storm. The sky slowly turns grey as you drive into the white distance, and eases you into the slowly deteriorating road conditions.
I drove out of Pagosa Springs and a large billboard flashed “WOLF CREEK PASS - EXERCISE CAUTION” and the road began to slope upwards towards the mountain. Very quickly the black road gave way to white snow patches and then total white as I climbed higher. I was only going 40 and I had a small chevy sedan trailing me and I thought to myself “Surely if this guy is doing fine, I’ll be fine in my truck”. As we got higher up there was an area for the commercial vehicles to put on their chains on their tires. As I drove by it I had a fight in my head about wether or not I should stop and attempt to put chains on my tires for the first time ever, but a voice spoke up and said “Trust in the 4 wheel drive, you’ll be fine”. I continued to ascend the increasingly sloping road and my truck started to lose speed, but when I pushed the gas to maintain my speed up the hill my truck’s back end slipped out. I fishtailed back and forth and I struggled to regain control on the narrow road on the side of a mountain. Finally regaining control I immediately pulled off the road onto the shoulder that was significantly deeper snow. I had a small melt down as I realized how insanely over my head I was, 8 miles from the summit of this pass and unable to control my vehicle while mini vans were doing just fine. I got out of the care to feel the road with my feet to see if there was even a “road” to drive on, there was not. Completely covered by a thick snow pack my foot slid back and forth on the tire tracks. I got back in the truck and had another miniature panic attack about how completely screwed I was. I determined that there was no chance of me regaining enough speed to make it up the sleep slope and that I needed to turn around in order to stay safe. Completely defeated I managed to turn the car around without sliding off the road. I sulked down back to Pagosa Springs, filled with the sinking feeling that if getting to boulder was this hard, Wyoming would be 10x harder.
I pulled into the first gas station I saw in Pagosa Springs and called my mom, defeat is never complete without a call to your mother haha. We talked for a little bit and she did what she does best, she helped me find a new way to go without the dangerous pass. It was longer and I wouldn’t arrive in boulder today, but it was a much safer drive and I would be on the right road to get to Boulder tomorrow. We re-routed me to Santa Fe, 2 and a half hours away, and determined I’d stay there for the night and give the weather time to relax a little.
Today was easily the most trying day of my journey so far. I legitimately thought my truck was going to get stuck in the middle of a snow filled mountain and I’d have to somehow walk out of the pass on foot. It’s the most out of control i’ve felt in a very long time. That feeling of complete helplessness has been absent for most of my adult life so far, and it was strange to welcome it back today. It felt like being a kid again, and it made me wonder if my father had ever had times where he felt helpless like a child. It effected me so much that the rest of the drive I was on the edge of my seat when I saw any patch of snow on the road. I’m very grateful I have a new route for tomorrow that doesn’t include sketchy roads. I’m grateful I have a mother who I can call when I feel completely out of control and she calms me down. Hopefully tomorrow I make it to Boulder!